Michael Shvo moves forward with $200M Norman Foster-designed office development in Miami Beach

Miami Beach board approved partial vacation of Alton Court alley, which next heads to city commission on Wednesday

Michael Shvo and Norman Foster and renderings of The Alton (Getty, Wikipedia, Foster + Partners)
Michael Shvo and Norman Foster and renderings of The Alton (Getty, Wikipedia, Foster + Partners)

Developer Michael Shvo’s plans for a Norman Foster-designed Class A office project on Alton Road moved forward on Tuesday, after a Miami Beach board voted in favor of transferring city land to the developer.

Shvo’s proposal calls for a roughly 250,000-square-foot development on the site of the long-shuttered Epicure Gourmet Market & Café at 1656, 1664,1676 and 1680 Alton Road and 1677 West Avenue. Renderings submitted to the city show the Foster + Partners-designed project would rise five stories on Alton Road.

The vacation of the alley, or transfer of the property from the city to Shvo, will next head to the city commission on Wednesday for approval.

The Miami Beach Planning Board voted 5 to 2 on Tuesday, with board members Tanya Bhatt and Gayle Durham voting against the partial vacation of Alton Court between Lincoln Road and 17th Street.

Another rendering of The Alton (Foster + Partners)

Another rendering of The Alton (Foster + Partners)

That portion of the alley would connect the West Avenue lot to the Alton Road properties, giving Shvo the ability to transfer floor area ratio (FAR) from West Avenue to Alton Road. The alley itself would remain.

New York-based Shvo, which is developing the Raleigh, South Seas and Richmond hotels on Collins Avenue into an ultra luxury hotel and residential project with its partners, plans to invest about $200 million in the Alton Road office project, Shvo said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Foster designed the oceanfront condo building Faena House, which was developed by Alan Faena and backed by Len Blavatnik. His London-based Foster + Partners design firm has projects in the U.S. and around the world, including One Beverly Park in Los Angeles, and 50 Hudson Yards in New York.

Kobi Karp of Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design is the architect of record, working alongside Foster + Partners on Shvo’s Alton Road project.

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Shvo’s attorney, Alfredo Gonzalez of Greenberg Traurig, emphasized that the developer was not seeking additional FAR. Instead, it was looking to connect its properties so that the Alton Road portion of the project could be taller, and the West Avenue building, closer to residential buildings, could be lower.

The city’s charter requires that voters approve the sale or lease of some city-owned properties via referendums. For properties where referendums are not required, developers can secure vacations, or property transfers, with a four-sevenths vote of the planning board and a six-sevenths approval from the city commission. Shvo cleared his first hurdle on Tuesday.

“If we don’t have the ability to move the FAR, it wouldn’t be financially feasible,” Shvo said.

Bhatt, who voted against the vacation, complimented the overall project, but said residents should be able to vote on the transfer of city property with a development agreement.

“I have an issue with the process. This was rushed,” Bhatt said.

Shvo paid $39.3 million for the properties earlier this month. Ace Hardware, a tenant, will likely remain open for about a year and then relocate nearby, Gonzalez said.

Other developers are also bullish on building offices in South Beach, hoping to attract tech and finance firms relocating or expanding to South Florida.

Two groups, one led by Don Peebles, former Mayor Philip Levine and Scott Robins; and the other by Integra Investments, Barry Sternlicht and Michael Comras, are vying for two separate office projects on city property off Lincoln Road.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also approved an increase to six stories from four stories for the parking garage of the Related Group’s planned Class A office project on Terminal Island, just off the MacArthur Causeway.

Shvo and Deutsche Finance secured approval from the city earlier this year for the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts-branded redevelopment of the Raleigh-anchored project nearby.